The WDR 2018 provides policy recommendations to solve the so-called learning crisis, based on what works according to the World Bank. However, the Bank chooses to forget that it is largely responsible for this crisis, as the biggest funder of education programmes and the biggest provider of technical assistance to ministries of education around the world. The Bank wants to focus on learning, but is it willing to learn from its failures? The three key recommendations in the WDR show otherwise:
First, assess learning to make it a serious goal. But assessments do not improve education
It is a fallacy that a sick person will be cured by measuring their temperature. Likewise, education is not improved simply by increasing the use of summative student assessments. Quality education is broad and cannot be reduced to that which can be measured. It is a complex process, which demands quality tools, quality environments and most importantly, quality teachers.
Second, act on evidence to make schools work for all learners. But whose evidence?
To improve education we need to act not on evidence handpicked by the Bank, but on evidence that is context-specific, and generated through dialogue with teachers and support personnel. No foreign expert knows the education system better than those who live it every day.
Third, align actors to make the whole system work for learning. But imposed policies cause misalignment.
Many low-income countries have for years suffered the effects of implementing the Bank’s policy advice as a result of concessional loans, yet the WDR is silent on the Bank’s own culpability as an actor contributing to the learning crisis. Behind the Bank’s rosy picture of alignment is a false consensus based on imposed policies. This undermines national sovereignty and democratic processes, including social dialogue.
The education community raises its voice
The report chooses to ignore the impact of decades of World Bank-funded reform across the globe, while sparing no efforts to blame teachers and unions for the shortcomings of its policy-advice. The WDR portrays teachers as ineffective and costly. This supposedly serves to justify the Bank’s attack on the public sector. Rather than providing aid to governments to strengthen public education systems, the Bank aims to move forward with a privatisation agenda, facilitating commercial deals for private involvement.
EI, representing 32 million teachers and education support personnel around the world, has therefore brought together the voices of teachers, unionists and education researchers in a blog series that analyses, critiques and challenges the report’s claims.
Authors show that the Bank has failed to learn from past mistakes and continues to provide policy advice that is detrimental to the achievement of quality education for all.
Ultimately, the authors’ various critiques bring to the fore the question: does the Bank’s policy advice in education have any legitimacy?
More at: www.worldsofeducation.org
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